Gorgeous sunsets, crimson leaves and fog enveloping the Olympics are among Nature’s gifts to us. Yet UP Artist Barry Crust takes what nature creates and transforms them into stunning works of art.
A retired teacher and coach, Crust has taken his lifelong love of the beach onto a whole new level, transforming driftwood into incredible works of arts.
“I always loved beach combing and being close to the water,” Crust said. “I’d always be looking around and bringing home driftwood, rocks and shells.”
After marrying his wife Sandy, Crust frequented the family’s home on Hood Canal, which provided unlimited access to driftwood. His collection at home grew so much, however, that he received an ultimatum…”either do something with it or get rid of it.”
And so his business Beyond the Beach was born.
After creating numerous intricate birdhouses, Crust decided to branch out into driftwood sculptures. Finding unusual pieces with interesting burls or knots are his most sought after discoveries. Petrified knots angling throughout the interior of a trunk is a beautiful example of nature creating “life after death,” Crust said. While Crust strives to maintain the natural look of the wood, he applies a clear marine finish to preserve and strengthen pieces, which also allow them to be displayed outdoors.
Among his favorite driftwood is a piece resembling an eagle that hangs in his home.
Another piece was a likeness of a salmon leaping out of the water, which a woman sent to her son in Dubai. Crust is also quite proud of a commemorative piece he did in honor of the opening of the “Bridge to the Beach” which is displayed in the Chambers Bay Golf Course pro shop along with several other works detailing the golf course.
Besides driftwood sculptures, Crust also creates walking sticks and canes with a local twist, using pruned limbs from the Curran Apple Orchard Park. Applewood is a strong wood and easy to work with for wood burning, Crust said. But not any stick will do. Each limb has distinctive marks and perhaps a curve or two to make it a truly one of a kind walking stick.
Sticks range from $55 to $135 depending upon how extensive the design is. Special orders including logos, brass knobs and personalized features are available.
And if that isn’t enough, Crust’s latest endeavor involves woodburning designs and inspirational sayings onto cabinet doors and plaques for home or business décor.
“My motto is ‘Created by nature and found by me,’” said Crust.
And for the lucky recipients of his talents, nature will endure that much longer in art that can be enjoyed for years to come.
Crust’s creations can be found at local farmers markets in Gig Harbor, Lakewood and Puyallup along with various arts and craft shows throughout the region or by contacting him directly at www.beyondthebeach.biz or (253) 273-0953.